That is the price of proximity: you don’t see it. Don’t know that it’s there. Then it is over.

The leaves of the chestnut tree have begun to fall onto the flagstone path in the garden, which is visible only here and there. The willow too has lost its leaves and needs pruning, it grows monstrously fast. The apple tree’s foliage has also thinned out, but from its boughs there are apples hanging, resembling little red lanterns amid all the naked branches. I ate one today, they are large, more red than green, and juicy, perhaps a little too sour, maybe they ought to be left for another week. I walked across the grass, long, soft and green, with the tart taste in my mouth, and thought about taste, the tastes of the various apple varieties, how old these tastes might be. When were they first crossbred? During the nineteenth century? The twentieth? Some tastes found in the world today are identical to tastes that existed two thousand years ago. The slightly unusual aroma, the out-of-the-ordinariness one can encounter in an apple from a private garden give me pleasure. I often think of my grandmother then, my father’s mother, the apples from their garden which we got every autumn, sometimes a whole crate, which lay in our cellar for weeks. Yes, and the smell in their cellar, of apples and plums. … It feels like I have started something new, something quite different, and that is this family. I think of it every day, that what matters is now, that the years we are living through now are when everything important happens. My previous life seems more and more distant. I am no longer preoccupied with my own childhood. Not interested in my student years, my twenties. All that seems far, far away. And I can imagine how it will be when what is happening now is over, when the children have moved out, the thought that these were the important years, this is when I was alive. Why didn’t I appreciate it while I had it? Because then, I sometimes think, I hadn’t had it yet. Only what slips through one’s fingers, only what is never expressed in words, has no thoughts, exists completely. That is the price of proximity: you don’t see it. Don’t know that it’s there. Then it is over, then you see it.

The yellow-red leaves lying wet and smooth on the flagstones between the houses. How the stone darkens when it rains, lightens as it dries.

~ Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “Autumn Leaves” in “Autumn


Photo: Apple Black and White by The-Definition via DeviatArt (via Newthom)

meaning is found not in success and glamour but in the mundane

From “You’ll Never Be Famous — And That’s O.K.” by Emily Esfahani Smith:

There’s perhaps no better expression of that wisdom than George Eliot’s “Middlemarch”…At 700-some pages, it requires devotion and discipline, which is kind of the point. Much like a meaningful life, the completion of this book is hard won and requires effort. […]

As for Dorothea..she marries her true love…But her larger ambitions go unrealized. At first it seems that she, too, has wasted her potential. Tertius’s tragedy is that he never reconciles himself to his humdrum reality. Dorothea’s triumph is that she does.

By novel’s end, she settles into life as a wife and a mother, and becomes, Eliot writes, the “foundress of nothing.” It may be a letdown for the reader, but not for Dorothea. She pours herself into her roles as mother and wife with “beneficent activity which she had not the doubtful pains of discovering and marking out for herself.”

Looking out her window one day, she sees a family making its way down the road and realizes that she, too, is “a part of that involuntary, palpitating life, and could neither look out on it from her luxurious shelter as a mere spectator, nor hide her eyes in selfish complaining.” In other words, she begins to live in the moment. Rather than succumb to the despair of thwarted dreams, she embraces her life as it is and contributes to those around her as she can.

This is Eliot’s final word on Dorothea: “Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

It’s one of the most beautiful passages in literature, and it encapsulates what a meaningful life is about: connecting and contributing to something beyond the self, in whatever humble form that may take.

Most young adults won’t achieve the idealistic goals they’ve set for themselves. They won’t become the next Mark Zuckerberg. They won’t have obituaries that run in newspapers like this one. But that doesn’t mean their lives will lack significance and worth. We all have a circle of people whose lives we can touch and improve — and we can find our meaning in that. [Read more…]

Twenty Years of ‘Marital Blitz’: ‘Happily-Ever-After Doesn’t Exist’

In a recent email, Suki John and Horacio Cocchi attempted to sum up their 20-year marriage in one paragraph, which read like a grocery list. It included: 8 homes, 9 housemates, 1 foreclosure, 21 jobs, 3 layoffs, 2 miscarriages, 1 birth, 3 parents and 2 friends deceased, 1 bankruptcy, 1 set of dentures, innumerable road trips, 3 days in Amarillo waiting for parts, 9 cars, 5 billion phone calls, far too many dance performances, 5 weeks in Europe, 17 weeks in Cuba, 1 summer in Vermont, 6 mattresses, 2 bread machines, 9 espresso machines, countless bottles of extra virgin olive oil, 5 tango lessons and 2 wedding rings.

The couple met 21 years ago, when she approached him in a coffee shop on the Upper West Side. “I saw him across the room and it was like a magnet,” said Ms. John, 58, who is as excitable as her wild, curly hair. […]

They are not a quiet or even-tempered couple. Living next door to them is probably akin to living next to trombone players. They argue often, about the symbolism of tango dancing, or which rug would look best in their living room, or whether God exists (she’s Jewish, he’s an atheist). “It’s noisy and messy and emotional,” she said. Mr. Cocchi describes their relationship as “marital blitz.” […]

After a lot of arguing, he acquiesced. “My wisdom is, it’s very hard to have a long-lasting relationship,” he said. “For me, it was about how much am I willing to give up to keep this marriage growing?” […] He likes to say, “Bad times will be followed by good times,” which seems true at the moment. […]

They also have a new ritual. They regularly meet at home in the afternoon, between teaching responsibilities, to take a “siesta” together. They lie next to each other in their dark bedroom. “It’s so sweet,” she said. “We just want to be with each other. I still think he’s absolutely adorable.”

~ Lois Smith Brady, from Twenty Years of ‘Marital Blitz’ (NY Times, August 10, 2017)

 

 

 

Flying Over I-40 S. With Repose.

Cut me some slack. It was a long day. Too long to even share a "It's been a long day" post. Ok, so I didn't know what "repose" meant.  I turned it in my head: Pose…Portrait…Re-pose…Repeat…Poster…Model posing…Model posing? Wow.

“Please repeat the word.”

“And now the origin of the root please.”

A nine year old would have nailed this in a Spelling Bee.

Like it makes a bloody difference. Long day or short day, I don't have a clue what it means. Google it Dummy.

It's 10:15 p.m. and I'm flying over I-40 heading South – reflecting on last night.  It was 8:30 pm.  The house is empty, the TV is spewing white background noise and I’m sprawled out on the couch.

I'm flipping through my RSS feeds and stop. I can't seem to untangle myself from a passage written by Sadegh Hedayat:  “Henceforth I lived like a soul in torment. All my waiting, watching and seeking were in vain.[…] Repose was utterly denied me. How could I have found repose?”

Like a rock skipping over water, the mind ignores words that don’t fit and locks on words that seem to have a mysterious grip. [Read more…]

My Heirloom: I have this tremendous family gift. What am I going to do with it?


I have this tremendous family gift. What am I going to do with it? …

This is the house that I grew up in. And the land that’s around us is something I’m attached to. When I grew up we knew everybody around us. There was a sense of community. I want to make sure that gets passed down as well as the watermelon.

~ Matt Bradford, The Bradford Watermelon Company (Sumter County, South Carolina)

Find story and video on cbsnews.com: The Return of an Heirloom Watermelon


Thank you Susan.

Memories

That was what he said. This was what I heard

One day, alone in the kitchen with my father, I let drop a few whines about the job. I gave him details, examples of what troubled me, yet although he listened intently, I saw no sympathy in his eyes. No “Oh, you poor little thing.” Perhaps he understood that what I wanted was a solution to the job, not an escape from it. In any case, he put down his cup of coffee and said, “Listen. You don’t live there. You live here. With your people. Go to work. Get your money. And come on home.”

That was what he said. This was what I heard:

1. Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself.

2. You make the job; it doesn’t make you.

3. Your real life is with us, your family.

4. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

I have worked for all sorts of people since then, geniuses and morons, quick-witted and dull, bighearted and narrow. I’ve had many kinds of jobs, but since that conversation with my father I have never considered the level of labor to be the measure of myself, and I have never placed the security of a job above the value of home.

~ Toni Morrison, excerpt from “The Work You Do, The Person You Are” (The New Yorker, June 5, 2017)


Photo of Toni Morrison: contramare.net

they get a lot of pleasure simply from shopping and buying things

Excerpts from How to Raise an American Adult (wsj.com, May 5, 2017) by Ben Sasse:

…Our nation is in the midst of a collective coming-of-age crisis. Too many of our children simply don’t know what an adult is anymore—or how to become one. Perhaps more problematic, older generations have forgotten that we need to teach them. It’s our fault more than it’s theirs…

My wife, Melissa, and I have three children, ages 6 to 15. We don’t have any magic bullets to help them make the transition from dependence to self-sustaining adulthood—because there aren’t any. And we have zero desire to set our own family up as a model. We stumble and fall every day. But we have a shared theory of what we’re aiming to accomplish: We want our kids to arrive at adulthood as fully formed, vivacious, appealing, resilient, self-reliant, problem-solving souls who see themselves as called to love and serve their neighbors. Our approach is organized around five broad themes.

Resist Consumption…In a 2009 study called “Souls in Transition,” Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith and his colleagues focused on the spiritual attitudes and moral beliefs of 18- to 23-year-old “emerging adults.” They were distressed by what they discovered, especially about the centrality of consumption in the lives of young people. Well over half agreed that their “well-being can be measured by what they own, that buying more things would make them happier, and that they get a lot of pleasure simply from shopping and buying things…But consumption is no route to long-term happiness … Although we often fail at it, Melissa and I aim to imprint in our children the fact that need and want are words with particular and distinct meanings … Parents can impart such lessons many ways. The occasional camping trip, off the grid, can teach the basic definition of shelter—and make the comforts of home look like the luxuries they are. You can shop differently too. One of our daughters is a serious runner, so we purchase high-quality shoes to protect her developing bones—but most of her other clothes come from hand-me-downs and secondhand shops. We want our children to learn the habit of finding pleasure in the essentials of life and feeling gratitude for them. We’d like to think that, when they strike out on their own someday, they’ll have a clear sense of what they really need… [Read more…]

1,218 Rank. #1 in our Heart…

2017 SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday in Central Park.

Our Rachel finished in 1,218 place out of 6,975 women finishers @ a 8:57 Pace.

Who would have thought?!?! 🙂


Related Post: Running. 10, On Great Friday.

You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.

Andrew Wyeth,

Later he told me he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden. Faraway windows, opaque and unreadable. Ruts in the spiky grass made by an invisible vehicle, leading nowhere. Dishwater sky.

People think the painting is a portrait, but it isn’t. Not really. He wasn’t even in the field; he conjured it from a room in the house, an entirely different angle. He removed rocks and trees and outbuildings. The scale of the barn is wrong. And I am not that frail young thing, but a middle-aged spinster. It’s not my body, really, and maybe not even my head.

He did get one thing right: Sometimes a sanctuary, sometimes a prison, that house on the hill has always been my home. I’ve spent my life yearning toward it, wanting to escape it, paralyzed by its hold on me. (There are many ways to be crippled, I’ve learned over the years, many forms of paralysis.) My ancestors fled to Maine from Salem, but like anyone who tries to run away from the past, they brought it with them. Something inexorable seeds itself in the place of your origin. You can never escape the bonds of family history, no matter how far you travel. And the skeleton of a house can carry in its bones the marrow of all that came before.

Who are you, Christina Olson? he asked me once.

Nobody had ever asked me that. I had to think about it for a while.

~ Christina Baker Kline, from Prologue of “A Piece of the World: A Novel


Art: Christina’s World is a 1948 painting by American painter Andrew Wyeth, and one of the best-known American paintings of the middle 20th century. The woman in the painting is Anna Christina Olson (3 May 1893 – 27 January 1968). She is likely to have suffered from Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a genetic polyneuropathy. Wyeth was inspired to create the painting when he saw her crawling across a field while he was watching from a window in the house. Wyeth had a summer home in the area and was on friendly terms with Olson, using her and her younger brother as the subjects of paintings from 1940 to 1968. Although Olson was the inspiration and subject of the painting, she was not the primary model—Wyeth’s wife Betsy posed as the torso of the painting.[4] Olson was 55 at the time Wyeth created the work. (Source: Wiki)

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